Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Academic Paper

Title: Syntactic generalization with novel intransitive verbs
Author: Melissa Kline
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Author: Katherine Demuth
Institution: Macquarie University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Semantics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: To understand how children develop adult argument structure, we must understand the nature of syntactic and semantic representations during development. The present studies compare the performance of children aged 2;6 on the two intransitive alternations in English: patient (Daddy is cooking the food/The food is cooking) and agent (Daddy is cooking). Children displayed abstract knowledge of both alternations, producing appropriate syntactic generalizations with novel verbs. These generalizations were adult-like in both flexibility and constraint. Rather than limiting their generalizations to lexicalized frames, children produced sentences with a variety of nouns and pronouns. They also avoided semantic overgeneralizations, producing intransitive sentences that respected the event restrictions and animacy cues. Some generated semantically appropriate agent intransitives when discourse pressure favored patient intransitives, indicating a stronger command of the first alternation. This was in line with frequency distributions in child-directed speech. These findings suggest that children have early access to representations that permit flexible argument structure generalization.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 41, Issue 3.

Return to TOC.

Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page